Consumer Privacy in a World of Emerging Media?

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The big question as  of late is whether consumer privacy really exists in the mobile space. Privacy is an issue for many consumers when it comes to mobile devices.  According to a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center, privacy is a top concern for mobile app users, as more than half (57%) have uninstalled apps for fear of sharing personal information or decided not to install apps to protect their privacy.

When it comes to brands sharing information via mobile devices, I think information should only be given to consumers who have downloaded mobile applications and, thus, have opted in to receive content published by that mobile app – inclusive of mobile ads. For example, I have a WeatNo-Privacyher Channel app on my smart phone. And when I view the app, it serves mobile ads from a variety of brands, such as Home Depot, Walmart, Progressive Insurance, etc. I think these ads are totally legit and I can choose not to view those ads when they pop up.

Further, while location-based marketing efforts are really innovative, I do think consumers should have the right to opt in or out. And, if they opt in, their consumer data should not be shared or sold without their permission. And, of course, that’s where the issue lies.

Marketers need to be transparent as to whether they will collect consumer data and how they plan to use the data. Now, there are new technologies that require customers to download a mobile app, turn on a Bluetooth, accept location services and opt in so they can be tracked and receive in-store notifications.  I think this is transparency at its finest, as consumers have the right to privacy if they so choose.

Privacy is certainly a hot topic and is very sensitive issue among consumer audiences – as it should be!  A recent Truste survey revealed that 78% of consumers won’t download an application they do not trust, which is down from 85% in 2012.

Mobile-SecurityPrivacy is also a primary concern of smartphone users when using mobile apps and is only second to battery life.  Fortunately, with the involvement of congress, the FTC and the White House, there’s greater awareness about mobile privacy – among consumers and marketers – and there’s self-regulation initiated by the Digital Advertising Alliance.

As a result of this greater awareness for privacy, 40% of smartphone users check whether an app has a privacy policy, while three in ten check for a privacy seal, and 39% research apps before downloading.

So at the end of the day, it’s important that marketers balance privacy concerns with consumer needs. By being transparent, consumers are informed and can choose on their own if they want to be tracked by brands. Giving consumers the option to opt in is an important step in building consumer trust.

Does SEO+ SEM = ROI?

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SEO, SEM, Google AdWords, Keywords, Meta tags? Many consumers have heard of these terms but most have no idea what they mean. SEM, or Search Engine Marketing, is a form of online marketing where brands pay for their website’s top ranking on search engine results pages by leveraging online tools, like Google AdWords, contextual advertising and other paid placements. These paid online ads are a means to generate more immediate results for brands. SEM serves as an umbrella term for the various ways of marketing a website online or via the mobile web. And, one of these many ways includes Search Engine Optimization (SEO).seo-sem

Search Engine Optimization, on the other hand, is a free technique that aims at improving a website’s ranking (i.e. visibility) in search engine results by strategically refining the website/mobile site’s content. For example, if you own a dry cleaning business, you might leverage SEO to get your website to rank as one of the top results when a user searches for “dry cleaning service” in your local area. These free, SEO activities include:

  1. Keyword/key phrase research and selection
  2. Indexing your website with the search engines
  3. On-page optimization
  4. Off-page optimization

One thing to note is that, while SEO is free and has many advantages, it takes much longer to gain the reputation that marketers and brands desire for their websites.  It’s sort of like a new student trying to gain popularity in high school. Simply put…it takes time.

downloadIt’s important for brands and marketers to find ways to improve both SEM and SEO to yield a positive ROI (Return on Investment) and even what some refer to as ROE (Return on Engagement), which is simply how consumers “engage” with a brand’s online/mobile content – be it a click-to-call or a visit to the website/mobile site to make a purchase, schedule an appointment or subscribe to an e-newsletter, etc.

Balancing SEO and SEM is critical for brands to have immediate and long-term visibility as well as achieve higher conversion rates online and via the mobile web.  Think about it…as a user, do you want to scroll and scroll to get the relevant information you desire? And as, for a brand, why wouldn’t you want high visibility on search engine results pages? Doing so increases the chances that consumers will engage with your brand. Leveraging both SEM and SEO is the sure fire way to optimize a brand’s web presence and achieve the kind of ROI or ROE that positively impacts the bottom line.

View Google’s interesting video to see just “How Search Works” for brands and consumers, alike. Enjoy and happy searching! 🙂

Leveraging Social Media to Strengthen Consumer Loyalty

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In today’s world of emerging media, 95% of consumers engage with some form of social media. Studies show that 53 % of U.S. consumers, who have a positive brand experience via social, tend to be more brand loyal.  With that being said, there are a lot of benefits for brands that leverage social media to convert and retain customers.

In fact, when brands interact with consumers via social media channels, they become more humanized. Social media enables brands to act like people. And, why is this important? Because people would rather do business with other people – not with companies!

iStock_000017005101MediumBy clearly understanding the groundswell – how consumers define their own perspectives about brands and have taken control of online discussions via social media – brands and marketers can better leverage these same tools to join the conversation and create relationships that might not have existed otherwise. The groundswell can actually serve as research for brands to better reach consumers – improving both conversion and retention rates, while developing brand advocates in the process. This is critical because brand advocates not only engage with brands online, they also speak well of them offline.  One study reveals that brand advocates drive 33% more sales and 18% more traffic than regular customers. So it’s quite clear that loyal customers are important. Here are three ways to ensure brand loyal consumers via social media:

  1. Post valuable content. Makes consumers want to engage with the brand – strengthening relationship over time.
  2. Integrate a customer service presence. Have readily available support via all social channels.
  3. Focus on customer experience. Ensure your brand’s content, response time, design, etc., is a positive experience for the consumer.

Further, it’s important to align social content with social media metrics and goals.  Brands and marketers must determine what business objectives their social strategy supports at the end of the day. How does the strategy create awareness or impact the bottom line? And, last but not least, it’s equally important to replicate brand identity from platform to platform to create consistency across social platforms, like big brands such as Target, Coca-Cola and Disney. 9733284483_e147eda73b_z

And, finally, the explosion of emerging media – blogs, wikis, online videos and other social platforms – has amplified viral, buzz and word-of-mouth marketing. So, as you can see, strengthening consumer relationships is vital. And what better way to develop this loyalty than through social media?  After all, it’s far better to have consumers that speak positively about your brand, than negatively. And, there are so many examples of how brands did it wrong!

Therefore, brands and marketers must be thoughtful about how they engage with consumers in the social media space and how to create a positive brand experience. It could make the difference in losing a customer, and developing a brand advocate for life.

Effective Uses of QR Codes in Emerging Media

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So who’s not familiar with a QR code? You’d be surprised there are still some marketers who haven’t figured out the proper use for them! For those of you who aren’t familiar, QR or “quick response” codes are scannable barcodes, comprised of dots, that bridge the gap between offline and online media. There are a number of websites available to create these free barcodes. Google Shortener has a QR generator that will not only create the barcode, but will also integrate the data with your Google Analytics account, provided you have one for monitoring your web analytics.

When brands make use of QR codes, smartphone users with QR readers are instantly sent to the brand’s website, landing page or even a video for more information or to engage in some call-to-action, including a product purchase, m-coupon offer, subscription to an e-newsletter, etc. Other innovative uses for QR codes include:

  • Social media engagement
  • Obtaining consumer contact information
  • Contest entry forms
  • Making mobile payments

QR codes can be placed almost anywhere and they encourage consumers to interact with the brand’s messaging any time of day. I’ve seen QR codes on bus stop advertising, via displays in the mall or department stores, and via handouts/pamphlets at events. Placement is key when deciding where to use QR codes. Some effective placement of QR codes, include: 5148775298_62b65744f9_z

  • Business cards
  • Brochures and pamphlets
  • Event signage
  • Product packaging and inserts
  • Restaurant menus
  • Point-of-sale receipts or displays
  • Even email marketing

An important pitfall to avoid is publishing QR codes on anything that constantly moves, like a vehicle, or on clothing.

As you can see, QR codes can be used to fuel lead generation at no additional cost. QR codes enable brands to engage in cross channel marketing from hard copy print to mobile, to social media, and email marketing with ease! And, according to the 2013 Mobile Barcode Trend Report: Holiday Shopping Edition, QR codes are an extremely effective way to stimulate holiday sales – not to mention marketers and brands can easily track and measure the results to determine campaign effectiveness.

How Mobile Advertising Piques Consumer Interest

11-24-2014 11-50-17 AMThere are lots of creative ways to incentivize consumers via mobile advertising. Some common ways include mobile coupon offers, specials and even deals to increase mobile commerce as well as traffic to brick-and-mortar stores for increasing in-store sales volumes.

According to Business Insider, m-coupon redemption rates average approximately 10% and m-coupon utilization is expected to increase. This year alone, the number of mobile coupon users is expected to increase to 53.2 million. At roughly 10%, the redemption rate of mobile coupons crushes that of print coupons, which hovers around 1%.
Marketers utilize mobile as means to personalize and target messages to garner immediate action from consumers. In addition to m-coupons, there are a variety of other methods (mobile apps, 2D codes, display ads, SMS, MMS, etc.) marketers employ as part of an IMC campaign, while using cohesive messaging across platforms – be it traditional, digital, social and/or mobile.

As part of the mobile strategy, marketers also develop push campaigns that include sending text sbux_sms_4messages (SMS & MMS) to opted-in customers about specials and m-coupon offers redeemable in store and online. Some coupon offers require in-store redemption as a means to further increase sales volume due to customers seeing products up-close-and-personal.

Marketers and brands also leverage promotion-oriented campaigns to drive consumer purchases via mobile paid search, which drives consumers to their mobile sites to view products and services and ultimately make purchases seamlessly via mobile, in-store or online.

But in order to be effective in the mobile space and generate ROI, marketers must ensure they are utilizing consumer data (patterns, behaviors, needs, wants, etc.) to develop their mobile strategy so that it’s a targeted effort that is relevant to the consumer.

The Explosive Growth of Mobile Marketing

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Mobile is becoming increasingly important to the overall digital ad ecosystem simply because of its explosive growth in the last few years. And, because there’s a lot of competition for traditional display advertising, there’s ample opportunity for marketers to utilize the mobile space for digital ads.

The advent of smart phones has provided marketers a lot of opportunity to engage consumers because they take their phones with them everywhere so they’re always connected.  According to an article in eMarketer, “smartphone adoption [will] contin11-17-2014 12-03-44 AMue on a fast-paced trajectory through 2017.”  In addition, the Mobile Mindset Study reveals that 58 percent of U.S. Smartphone users check their phones at least every hour – and this doesn’t include the rapid adoption of and increased use of tablets, which have become the second screen in the living room.

According to Nielsen, 85 percent of U.S. tablet owners use their devices while watching TV.  This kind of explosive growth in mobile provides a vast opportunity for marketers to reach targeted audiences with messages that are not only targeted but also personalized to meet consumer needs.

Further, Mobile Marketer states that “80 percent of mobile users prefer locally relevant advertising and 75 percent are more likely to take an action after seeing a location-specific message.”  Therefore, mobile advertising provides a unique opportunity for brands to reach target consumers geographically – near their stores, near competitors’ locations or at events – via search and display ads as well as via SMS and MMS ads.

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In a nutshell, mobile marketing helps brands of all sizes better control their message, using location-based messaging, as well as control their ad spend.  To that end, Mobile strategies provide for better analytics so brands can track and measure campaign effectiveness and determine how to spend their mobile ad dollars going forward.

Mobile-Optimized Web Design

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Responsive web design is a must-have in the world of emerging media. With simple CMS platforms, like WordPress, you automatically get a responsive web design. WordPress has figured out that in an effort to stay relevant that it must offer the latest technology. Both my employer’s website and my church’s website (which is a WordPress template) have a responsive web design because we know that most visitors will access our web content via a mobile device – be it a smart phone or tablet. Also, any transaction performed on both websites is mobile optimized to ensure a positive user experience, as we want repeat visitors again and again.

To take it a step further, for our social media channels, we design our social content based on how it looks on mobile devices. So for example, the Facebook and Twitter graphics were designed with mobile in mind. We designed the cover/header images based on how they would look in a smaller viewing window, like an iPhone, iPad and Android. We tested the images first and made some adjustments to the positioning of the text on the cover/header images on both Facebook and Twitter.

Further, if a brand’s site isn’t optimized for mobile, it risks losing sales or some other call-to-action. Research shows that if a website takes more than 3 seconds to load, that 57 percent of mobile users will abandon the site. In addition, 30 percent will abandon a purchase if the shopping cart isn’t optimized for mobile devices.

Surprisingly, even in the age of emerging media, there are still a large number of websites that are not optimized for mobile. Brands must consider how important a mobile-optimized website is for their business, especially small businesses that need every sale they can get.

Here are five reasons brands should have a mobile optimized website:mobile-website-comparison

  1. Mobile Users are Different. Statistics show that mobile users spend more money per purchase than customers do on desktop websites.
  2. Mobile Gets Traffic. One-quarter of global web searches are conducted on a mobile device by more than a billion users worldwide. Users want access to information quickly.
  3. Better Brand Engagement. Consumers engage with brands more when they offer a satisfying mobile experience, and they’re more likely to return to their desktop sites later on.
  4. Increased Conversions. Mobile sites convert visitors into buyers more often.
  5. Reduce Your Bounce Rate. If a brand’s site isn’t mobile optimized, the bounce rate on mobile devices will be extremely high.